The Power of Now

Written by  Charles Gallagher

Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.
Eckhart Tolle

Project teams are often tasked with predicting the future in terms of delivering the project within the classic triple constraint: Time. Cost. Quality. Teams are tasked with doing this utilizing various software tools and also in the midst of the sea of technology that we all carry with us along with the latest and greatest social media apps. As a result of all these mental threads, we often attend our project team meetings pulling this entire cognitive load into the meeting room.

gallagherAug26The result is a room full of people, all of whom are multitasking and moving between the past (what happened yesterday) and the future (what will happen tomorrow) often missing the most important information (which was the point of coming together to the meeting in the first place). I have laughed out loud viewing online parodies of the types of meetings we all attend all the time. The reason they are so funny is because they are so true. It is very easy to become the parody, especially as technology enables this pattern and the speed that comes from the technology creates a social expectation that encourages it.

The challenge is that our brains are not designed to perform optimally and multitask too. In fact, multitasking flies in the face of the ability to truly think critically or creatively— both of which are required to trouble shoot issues and to ultimately produce meaningful results. My experience has been that it is almost impossible to be creative and to multitask simultaneously. The creative process and the ability to critically think require us to slow down and BE IN THE PRESENT. For example, I tend to be much more creative and quicker on my feet after a long weekend or vacation. Unfortunately, the half-life of those little breaks is always short lived and the immediate stress upon re-entry to the technological noise kills your quiet mind and pulls you right back into the raging sea of information, multiple cognitive threads and, of course, multitasking.

Some of us know mindfulness or being in the present as our inner voice. In the biography by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs is quoted as saying, “I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis… intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.” Even Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

In conclusion, I recommend that you experiment with different techniques that allow you to be more mindful in your work. Try closing off communication channels during meetings and be fully present in the “now” of your work. Create space and time in the information you receive. Have fun with it— see if you can challenge yourself to achieve balance in an unbalanced world. If you are like me, you will find you can actually enjoy your work more and ironically you won’t have to work as hard.

Image Source: Mary Mattingly; Pull

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